Jorge Jose Leoncio de Leon y Lichauco. For me, the quintessential Pampango royal.
He was always an esteemed guest at Lola Charing’s house and it always seemed like the proverbial Red Sea would part to make way for him whenever he would arrive…
Jorge was the favorite son of the industrialist Jose de Leon y Joven of Bacolor, Pampanga and the heiress Natividad Lichauco y Fernandez of San Miguel, Manila. Jorge’s father, Jose “Pepito” de Leon y Joven, was the only son of Pampanga’s first multimillionaire industrialist Jose Leoncio “Pitong” de Leon y Hizon and the Chinese mestiza heiress Regina “Inang” Joven y Gutierrez.
The de Leon were originally simple people but the Joven, originally “Ho Bang” [ according to Tito Jorge ], were very prosperous Chinese mestizos, originally from Binondo, who reigned over the aristocracy of patrician Bacolor town. Several of the affluent old families of Bacolor — the Alimurung, the Panlilio, the Liongson, the Valdes, the Granda, the Gutierrez David — received infusions of additional wealth through marriages to Joven offspring in the late 1800s.
Jose Leoncio “Pitong” de Leon y Hizon was initially a hardworking entrepreneur who married the heiress Regina “Inang” Joven y Gutierrez in 19__. They had one son, Jose “Pepito” de Leon y Joven. She died young. He proceeded to marry her younger sister Maria Natividad “Titang” Joven y Gutierrez. With the combined large fortunes of his two heiress wives, plus his own hard-earned capital, Jose Leoncio de Leon finally hit the big leagues when he established, along with other affluent Pampango entrepreneurs, the PASUDECO the Pampanga Sugar Development Company, which was incorporated in 1918 and began operations in 1921. He became the first Pampango multimillionaire. His immense fortune established the de Leon-Joven family of Bacolor at the very top of affluent Pampanga society for decades.
Faustino Lichauco, originally “Li Cha Ho” [ according to Tito Jorge ], was a Chinese mestizo who accumulated a large fortune from cattle ranching. His wife, Luisa Fernandez, was a Spanish mestiza. The Lichaucos lived in aristocratic Spanish style in a mansion in San Miguel district, near the Malacanang palace. The splendor and opulence of the grand house so overwhelmed the young Jose “Pepito” de Leon Jr. that, according to their family accounts, he almost backed down from courting the young Natividad “Naty” Lichauco.
Jorge was the only one allowed to share his father’s orange sorbet at the dinner table, to the chagrin of his siblings.
Against his aristocratic mother’s wishes, he married the pretty and intelligent Raquel Valdes Gonzalez, a neighbor in Bacolor town. What started as a coy exchange of glances from the windows of their large houses developed to an intense romance that prompted the daily exchange of letters throughout the war. They were finally married at the Malate church on 02 January 1947.
A quiet man, he rarely spoke and he was capable of being a sphinx at the dinner table…
Like a child with a sweet tooth, he especially liked the delicate “tocino del cielo” served at the house. He could consume several pieces and it was one of those occasions wherein his delight was plainly visible.
He was an astute real estate investor. A cousin remembers accompanying him to see a big Elizalde house for sale along Buendia avenue [ FPN ] years ago. He inspected it so thoroughly he even climbed up to the roof to see its real condition! However, he saw something he did not like and did not purchase the house.